Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul are competing to host the 2020 Summer Games, with all three cities saying the Olympics would help overcome tremendous social and economic hardships.
At meetings in Quebec City on Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee eliminated Doha, Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan, from the running.
The IOC will announce the winner next September.
For Tokyo, hosting the Games is all about recovery from 2011’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the nation’s prime minister said.
“It is a true honour for Tokyo to be accepted,” Yoshihiko Noda said today, according to Reuters. “Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games ... will serve as a symbol of Japan's recovery from last year’s tragedy.”
Thousands died and still more lost their homes when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that laid waste to coastal regions.
Tokyo hosted the 1964 Games, the first Asian country to do so.
For Madrid, hosting an Olympic Games would help reverse that country’s flailing economy, organizers said.
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This is the third attempt for the Spanish city.
“Now I am convinced that this time we are going to have a winning project,” Madrid Mayor Ana Botella said, according to Reuters. “I think now, more than ever, that the organization of the Games is a strategic project for the country that will attract investment and unite everyone.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, won the 2016 Games, and London is hosting this year’s event.
The Olympic torch is currently making its way through the United Kingdom, with the Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, the latest celebrity to carry the flame.
A former world equestrian champion, thousands watched her carry the torch aboard her horse, Toytown, in Cheltenham.
“It was unbelievable, actually, I’m shaking,” she told a crowd estimated at 16,500, according to The Daily Mail. “It was an unbelievable experience, and I am massively honoured for doing it.”
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